The yearly two- day Monsoon Festival of the IIC featuring both classical dance and music, would seem to have attracted a smaller audience than usual thanks to a Delhi calendar with too many events dividing attention. The second day’s presentation with Gauri Diwakar’s Kathak presented a dancer who has truly arrived in every sense of the word. There is an assurance and serenity in her dance, even in the drut portions, showing that the art is emerging from a still inner centre with none of the agitated virtuosity which so often mars to-day’s Kathak. Celebrating Spring in all its bloom through Vasant tala and Vasant Raag, visualising the season as described in the poetry of Kalidas and through a Suryakanthi Tripathi composition woven round sringar in all its joy in union, Gauri’s interpretation came out trumps in both planning and execution. Spring arrives with fragrant breezes wafting across with coloured blooms all over (“Charo taram Vasanth”). Her broad hand sweeps, half turns and chakkars both clockwise and anticlockwise were the essence of elegant grace. The ginti tihais, the intra-form segments comprising some less hackneyed nritta compositions, the Parmelu were just the right proportions with no overdoing of nritta. Bullet Shah’s composition “Hori kheloongi Bismillah” was another fine choice, full of the spirit of Spring and joy. The best of the evening came in th Suryakanthi Tripathi lyric, “Naino ke dore laal gulaaal bhare” where with delicate gestures and suggestive artistry, the dancer created the sensuous feel, despite Samiullah’s vocal support, which, fair in the beginning, went totally off key in the improvisations, not providing the necessary emotive takeoff point. It is best that singers stick to the basics for dance thereby keeping sahitya clarity and being in ‘sur’ the main concern.
Age has not changed physically Urmila Satyanarayana who looked as trim and beautifully groomed as she was ten or fifteen years ago. But her Bharatnatyam seems to have lost something vital in its rhythmic exactitude. The Gambhiranattai Pushpanjali made a modest start. In the Lalgudi Jayaraman ragamalika varnam “Angaiyyer’s kannir” showing Meenakshi expressing all the nine moods in the way she relates to Shiva, laya went haywire. The choreography failed to relate the teermanam sollus to rhythmic units in an assertive fashion and immaculate foot contact rhythm was totally absent in the vague and somewhat muffled footwork. The only point where Urmila seems infallible is in her ability to stand with one foot on the ground and the other raised, the body frozen in total motionlessness and rock steady balance. With such grasp, one is all the more surprised with the less than perfect laya. Her expressive face brought out mukhabhinaya to an extent though the entire varnam lacked a clean cut division in abhinaya and nritta. The Poorvikalyani Javali “nee matalu e mayunura” wherein the heroine is no longer willing to listen to the false promises never fulfilled of the lover (and shows him the door), was executed with more conviction , but I still missed the old Urmila who was such a spirited and complete dancer. “Thumaki chalat Ramachandra” visualising Kausalya’s vatsalya joy in her little son as he takes faltering first steps had tenderness.. The Kanada Tillana in Aditalam brought down the curtain on what was a performance which did not live up to the old Urmila Satyanarayana promise.


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